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Poetic form: Fornyršislag (Old Meter)
Feoh (Fee, Wealth)
Riches are not wrought by red gold hoarded,
Nor always, heaped, herded, barn-held, or byre-held.
Some have kin-wealth, craft-cunning, others.
Unless unwisdom wastes it, all wealth should bring gain.
Ur (Aurochs, Cattle)
Horned herdling is harmless, husbanded; to unwary
Or foolish, a fell force, fierce foe to be reckoned;
Unflagging, untiring, good underling, yet
Free in the forest, too far-flung for good.
Thorn (Thorn, Giant)
Through flower, through fruit, flourishing, thrives Thorn:
Thrusts to make mindful, threatening enemies.
Quick in the kindling, crackles in flame;
Hedge against ill-hap, a haven in trouble.
Os (Mouth, Speech)
When mouth parts, so man's mind is opened,
Though closed to its keeper, by cunning speaker.
Meat and drink enter it: maybe move out again -
Mouth mocks a fool, but is mead for the wise.
Rad (Raid, Riding)
Riding is rough on the rearing galloper:
Saddle, less soft than a seat by the fire!
Rede well to ride well, first reckon your going,
And look ere you leap, lest you land in the mire!
Cen is well-kenned by the clearness it makes,
Drives away darkness, lends daring to lead;
Harm can't be hidden from holder of fire-brand;
Hammer falls hardest, when hottest the gleed.
Gyfu gets giving, but guess at the meaning:
Gladness begetting, or goad of a debt?
Gifts may be glorious, yet not great in their seeming;
Make much of their meaning, and match what you get.
Wynn is well-working, woe away banishing:
Happy whose wants all his winning can sate;
Happiness hoarded, when hapless the day,
Is a joy to the wise, that the jealous will hate.
Hail is a horror to husbandman, care-worn
For harvest not home-fast; he hastens to save
The seed of his sowing from unseasonable ice;
Yet in seconds it melts, as sea-foam into wave.
Need is a noose at the neck of a man:
Whets the will of a wight: naught works as Need can!
Strong must he struggle, else strangle and die,
For soonest is safest - while slow wonders why.
Ice glistens like glass, or is unguessed, not seen;
Fair-seeming afar off, yet fearsome to cross;
It can speed, or can spurn, spilling men down -
When deep, ships are shiftless; when shallow, men drown.
Year turns ever, to yield at ending
For man and beast, mede by gods' sending;
Dread or welcome, death and birth:
Earth fills all wights, that feed the earth.
Of forest-folk, of furthest delving
In deepest earth, digs down the yew;
Longest-lived, in bearing, burning,
Shadow in summer shapes, warm shelter in winter.
For men, after meat, in good mood, at their playing,
A mouth makes them merry - a mead-hall itself!
Purse unfillable, its flaps unstrung,
A dice-cup indeed! Who'll dare to tumble it?
Wetland-wort, Elk-sedge, in water-world thriving:
Cuts like a seax-edge; keeps the blue-kirtled mere.
Sunna's sign bodes for seafarers well;
The whales' way wending, warming on swell.
Mind-weal, and mood-weal, and might of men healing,
Her halling, the heaven; light-holding, day-dealing.
Tiw (The god)
Tiw is troth's touchstone: true is he ever,
Good guide, and god-ward: goes astray never.
Birch may seem barren, but bears without seed,
In beauty abiding; she brews her own mead.
Eh (Horse, Companion)
Horse gives a high seat, is hardy to speed;
Fords stream, sure-stepping: stout helper!
Fares far and fast, a friend to the traveller,
Kin-close and kindly, oft counted as sibling.
Man is merriest, when he meets with his kin,
Though blood betrays blood for basest of things;
To grave-mouth agape, to ground man must wend,
And death is a debt none can dodge in the end.
Lake, long in crossing, men loathly may think:
Bank to bottom less broad, but more baleful, to sink!
Ing (The god)
Ing is of earth, of the Ynglingas, sire;
Abed in the winter, he wakes to bale-fire;
Rising, returning to rouse up the spring,
Grass-greening, grain growing to greatness, is Ing.
From dawning to dusk, Day is dear to all men;
A light well to live by, and longed-for again.
To king and to carl, Day comes, one for all:
Rise early, lie late, loathe or love: Day must fall.
Home is where heart is, hearth and loved kin:
Safety and stronghold, to save or to win;
Birth-right of blessings, sweet burden to share,
Wonning has wanderer; wolf has his lair.
Lightning-bearer of long-boughed folk,
Bones of the sea-wain, strength of the oak;
Heart of the homestead, harbouring all
Freely, like lord, feeds at feasts in his hall.
Straight and strong to withstand, is the ash-tree,
Life-taker hafting, long arm of warriors;
Man-wounded, wounds man; to his weal man looks:
Blades strike him often - yet he outlives most trees.
Bend the unbending: born a fell weapon,
Deadly at distance, down-striking afar;
Winged spear-shaft-sending, speeds foes to Hel,
And prey to the pot, in peace or in war.
Beaver's a builder, bides by the river;
Strong in his siblings, striving together
To weave walls of wattle, the water-wights herding,
Happy in home made of hurdles, with kin.
Ear (The grave)
Hateful this Hel-hall, home cold and narrow:
Men may lie long in this lich-bed, asleep!
Clammy clay mouth-stopping, earth clemming all flesh,
All bonds broken: breath, blisses, all flown.
© Nick Ford 03.-06.10.2005
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